Pros: Clarity, detail, packaging
Cons: Lack of Bass, too analytical
Pros: Clarity, detail, packaging
Cons: Bass, too analytical
Sources: MacBook Pro, iPod Classic
Amp/DACs: iBasso D-Zero
Luxury. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the wooden box with a vinyl outside. The top of the box is gold stamped that says "HiFiMAN" and there's a gold colored clasp to open the box. Once opened there's a vinyl coated interior with the accessories on the right and the headphones in a plastic casing, which surprisingly is only painted on the outside, not the inside as well. Included is a variety of cable attachments to connect the RE272 through a TSS connection or a standard 3.5mm. There's also two different double flanged white tips and XS->L mushroom tips.
Overall the packaging is nice, but it looks more luxurious than it really is. I wish that there had been more attention to detail, especially in the hard plastic casing which should have been fully painted. Everything was secure though.
Design and Build Quality
The design of the RE272 looks sill at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense when worn over ear with these. Compared to the RE0, these are a huge step forward in comfort. The build is plastic with a rubber edging, I assume for easier gripping when placing them in your ears, and surprisingly feels better quality than the all metal RE0. Each IEM has a rather long stress relief with an L or R stamped on them. The RE272 definitely feel solid. The RE272 terminate to a balanced plug short to allow the user to choose from one of 4 extensions to cater to any sort of 3.5mm plug. The y splitter has some nice touches, on one side RE272 is stamped, on the other HiFiMAN. The plugs are terminated in an odd 45 degree angle that I don't know if I agree with, but it seems sturdy.
The isolation is rather lacking though, no matter what tip I tried I couldn't get fantastic isolation. I would say it blocked out about 50% of the noise when they were just sitting in my ears.
Overall these are built decently, I feel for the price they could have done better, but it's a huge step up from RE0 to me in every aspect.
As always I've burned these in for 50 hours before conducting any sound tests. These have also a claimed 60+ more hours burn in as part of the RE272 loaner system, for an estimated 150 hours.
Analytical and bright, I honestly could not enjoy music on these. These are very detailed, airy sounding, and clear, much like the RE0. Much like the RE0 though the bass is severely lacking. The upper/mid bass has come impact, but the extension is very weak. I can hear some of the sub bass, but I struggle to hear it, I most definitely can't feel it. The mids are strong, detailed but very cold sounding and not very engaging. Everything sounds great in the mids, but I don't enjoy them. The highs are where the RE272 shine, but they're too bright and forward to me. They've very well extended, clear and detailed, but they are too forward and at times a bit harsh. The soundstage is nothing special, very similar to the RE0 from my memory, an airy feel to it.
Since these are analytical sounding I decided to listen to only fantastically mastered albums to see how they hold up:
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Is This Love
I am using the Barry Diament mastering from 1990 which is highly regarded. Right away the usual smooth silky sound of this recording is gone. The bass line is completely outshined by the ska inspired guitar, the little guitar riffs are way too forward in the mix, and Bob's voice is a bit irritating. Everything sounds absolutely crisp and clean, but from a surgical view. It's as if every instrument was taken, put on a table with a clear outline as to where it began and started and placed in the headphones. Great clarity, but not enjoyable and the lack of bass makes this song irritating.
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
Rage's self titled album has long since been a standard in the audio industry for it's excellent production and mixing. I've listened to this track at least 100 times in my life throughout various pieces of audio equipment and I can say without a doubt this is the least enjoyable I've ever found it. The kick drum has some punch to it, but the bass is lost in the mix, it's barely audible. What usually gives the guitar it's punchy backing is now gone. The guitars sound overly bright and the vocals have lost their aggressive attack they have on my Ad900.
The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For the Devil
This is taken from the MFSL CD rip. The sound sounds wonderful. The bongos are easily heard in the right channel. The shaker and bass in the left sound great. The vocals are in the middle and sound very clear. The piano comes in and melds perfectly in the mix. Honestly everything sounds wonderful in this until the little guitar solo comes in and it's just too bright, too irritating.
The Beatles - Here Comes the Sun
This is from the 2009 remaster. There's many versions, MFSL, pbthal rips, and so forth, but the legend Dr. Ebbett claimed this was better than his and his was known as the standard for years. Either way this remaster was done right. To get on with the song, it sounds wonderful on these. Absolutely wonderful. Every instrument is clearly heard, the intro acoustic guitar sounds as if it's on the other side of the room. I really have no complaints with this song, the RE272 does this song right.
Fans of the RE0 will find a welcome linear upgrade to me. These are detailed, clear, and focus on the mids and highs. These are definitely lacking in bass and are a bit bright though, which will turn a lot of listeners off. If that doesn't the hyper analytical sound of these will. If you're looking for a musical IEM, these are not it. If you want to dissect your music these will be a welcome addition though. I like these, but only for very specialized listening, I even enjoy my SoundMAGIC E30 over these for every day listening.
As always you can see more photos of the HiFiMAN RE272 here!